Toil or Dream

Photo credit: Annie Zalezsak

I’m aware it’s nearly a year since my last post. I got caught up in the day job. In October, I was drawn back into reading spiritually uplifting books. Today, I read (the first stanza of) this poem, and it asked me to return to writing here.

The Cry of the Dreamer

by John Boyle O’Reilly

 I am tired of planning and toiling
 In the crowded hives of men;
 Heart-weary of building and spoiling,
 And spoiling and building again.
 And I long for the dear old river,
 Where I dreamed my youth away;
 For a dreamer lives forever,
 And a toiler dies in a day.

There’s this tendency I have to become so work-oriented, I forget that what truly nourishes my life and soul is creative activity. While I’m fortunate enough to enlist creativity in my job, I forget and neglect that my soul craves something deeper, someplace meaningful to linger on a regular basis, and give my personal reflections a safe place to flow.

This is where I planned to do (at least some of) that. I now acknowledge this is more than a frivolous past-time; it’s a downright need.

I welcome myself back.

Toil or Dream © December 6, 2017 | Annie Zalezsak

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Going Minimalist

Having relocated many times over the years, I tend toward a minimalist philosophy. With each move, I determine what possessions I value most, and let go of the rest.

I have rare moments of “whatever happened to that…?” but I don’t yearn to repossess anything I gave away. Life is so much easier with less.

When I stay in one place awhile, I accumulate again. (I come from a long line of pack rats!) I get to a point when clearing the excess feels necessary for my sense of peace.

Here’s how I assess what stays…

1. I LOVE it! It’s ‘me’. It resonates with my soul and the person I want to be in this world.

2. It brings me JOY! I want everything I own to make me happy. No point in keeping things that don’t.

3. It’s MEANINGFUL. Association with a happy memory is good. A gift I don’t like or use, and keep out of guilt, evokes discomfort. Not good.

3. I USE it. It’s practical and makes my life easier.

Here’s how I determine what goes…

1. It’s served its PURPOSE with me. If the reason I got it has long since passed or my situation has changed, it can move on to live a new, fulfilling life with someone else.

2. I won’t MISS it. If I haven’t thought about the item for the last few months, I don’t need to continue paying for the space to store it.

2016.05.10 Stuff for Fort McMurray (4) WP3. Someone else NEEDS it. There are people in dire need of stuff that is sitting here doing nothing in my life.

For me, the Fort McMurray wildfire motivated me to haul out brand new (still tagged) clothes I bought on sale over the years (but didn’t quite fit into, yet!). Six bins full.

The things we redundantly hoard can make a world of difference to someone else.

Going minimalist is not about living without stuff. It’s about consciously choosing to surround ourselves with the best of what we love. And that is what make us feel rich.


Going Minimalist © May 11, 2016 | Annie Zalezsak

Be or Do

Photo: rdonar | 123rf.com

The ‘spiritual path’ seems to focus on being. Some take that to mean the absence of doing; others view it as meditation, or being mindful (present-moment awareness) in the midst of any action.

“I am a human being, not a human doing. …
If you are what you do, then when you don’t… you aren’t.”
— Dr. Wayne Dyer

While I understand this well, there are things that I can experience as a human being, that involves doing. All kinds of doing. And there’s so much I want to do.

In fact, sometimes I’m overwhelmed by all the doing that I want to fit in. The fun kind of doing. I want to travel, paint, dance, write, swim, and go to qi gong classes.

Then there’s the doing that I have to do, in order that I may be. Work, bathe, eat. Sometimes, all I want to do is the bare bones basics.

… you will never get it done.  — Abraham-Hicks

Ain’t that the truth. Even if you tick off every item on your bucket list, there are endless options to add on.

For me, life is not a choice between being or doing. It’s not even about balance between the two.

My spiritual path feels more like I’m ‘accepting’. Relaxing into each moment, whatever is happening (or not), and making the best of it.

Be or Do © November 20, 2015 | Annie Zalezsak

Right Place, Wrong Time

Peace fpr Paris Nov 13, 2015My mother told me she missed a train during World War II in Europe. That train was bombed.

On November 13, 2015, my friend Cherie Hanson was visiting Paris. Virtually next door, explosions and gunshots killed over a hundred people.

Aberfan. London bombings. Twin Towers. School shootings. Wars. Freak accidents. Epidemics.

So many people in the wrong place at the wrong time; and so many people in the right place at the wrong time.

When something tragic happens and we’re in the ‘right place’ – safe – our physical or emotional proximity to the situation may determine its impact on us. It can affect us deeply even if the event didn’t happen directly to us.

Such events change the direction of lives. It can alter personalities. It can shift belief systems.

When the world’s populace takes notice, it is an opportunity to transform the consciousness of the human race.

Right Place, Wrong Time © November 15, 2015 | Annie Zalezsak

Email to One Million People

I go to a writing group first Monday of every month. We’re given arbitrary words, subjects or ideas to spark a spurt of writing. This month, we were asked to imagine we can submit into a kind of lottery, an email that will be randomly selected to be sent to one million people.

In the final phase of preparing my first book for publishing, I took this writing exercise very seriously. This is what I wrote.

Email to One Million People from Annie Zalezsak

The book, We Are One Blood is now available on Amazon. Annette Erickson, the writing group’s facilitator, has written the first review.

© August 17, 2013 | Annie Zalezsak

Getting Back on Track With Better Food Choices

Since my last post, my food choices included more calzone, pulled pork poutine, Miss Vickie’s potato chips and Reeses peanut butter chocolate bars. Today, the tide turned for the better. This is what I bought at the grocery store.

For lunch, I made a mushroom omelette (3 mushrooms, 2 organic eggs, organic cheddar cheese, turmeric, black pepper, and organic mango salsa on top).

For dinner, I made salad with romaine lettuce, caesar dressing and added sausages that I cooked on my George Foreman grill.

Now, I know these choices aren’t perfect. It’s not so much the choices, but my attitude that has shifted back on the right track. Today, I didn’t obsess over what I should or shouldn’t eat. I didn’t dwell for hours on what take out food I wanted. I wasn’t compelled by anything in particular. I simply thought, I’m hungry. I’ll make an omelette. I’ll get some lettuce and salad dressing. I’ll use up those sausages in the fridge.

Food became simple again. There were no psychological motives or power struggles amidst the food choices.

Last night I made an important decision about a life direction. This morning I woke up feeling empowered. I felt stronger. I knew what was right for me. There are still a lot of fears and unknowns about this direction, but at least I know I have made a conscious choice and I have control over that choice. Before that, I was looking to others to direct me. I now realize that I had been listening to their advice more than my own heart and gut.

I have learned that following my intuition about the big things can make the little things, like food choices, much simpler. Aspects of our lives are inter-weaved and impact each other, even though we hardly realize it.

Big lesson for me.

© July 29, 2013 | Annie Zalezsak

Control, Empowerment and Food

© Copyright 2013 Annie Zalezsak

It’s been a rebellious week. I noticed I had a child-like defiance when it came to my food choices. I remembered what a fussy eater I was as a kid. I lived on bread and butter, chocolate milk, jello and salad. My nutritionist told me kids are picky eaters when they feel powerless in their environment. All they can control is their eating.

When I was a kid and my mom sent me to the store for milk or bread, I would ask her for a dime to buy candy. Really, I was asking: “Am I a good girl? Do you love me?”

When I grew up, left home and went to work, having my own money meant I could eat out, something my poor family rarely did. It felt empowering to be able to buy my fast food lunches.

Photo credit: Johanna Goodyear | Dreamstime.com

Currently experiencing life challenges, I’ve been reverting to former eating behaviours. The nutritionist assigned me a task. For the next four days, I have to think of ways other than food to feel empowered and in control.

After the appointment, I sat at the beach. I spent nearly four hours contemplating what to eat and what a particular choice might make me feel. I’ve been craving meat for days, but had it so engrained for the last 6 months only to eat organic. It was too hard to go out of my way to the stores that sell it. More defiance. I needed nearby easy food.

In the end, I decided on a slice of pizza. Yet when I neared the pizza place, I had doubts. I walked back and forth, then decided ‘no’ because I don’t like how wheat makes me feel. Very hungry now, what was I going to do? I wound up in the supermarket.

Still perplexed, I kept being drawn to the meat. No organic. On my way down to the tinned fish aisle, I noticed my formerly favourite sausage brand was on sale.

Okay, not the best choice, but better than potato chips. And it’s protein. They tasted wonderful. I enjoyed them thoroughly. They felt good in my tummy. It’s what I needed.

I’m starting to understand that being too strict with a perfect diet can throw you into the opposite direction. You gotta give in every now and again to something that isn’t perfect. It’s all relative. I have to ease up on some of the ordinary foods, or I’ll wind up like a child having a tantrum and wanting to eat candy all the time.

Balance.

© July 18, 2013 | Annie Zalezsak

Back on the Veggies

Yesterday, I got beef chow mein take-out. I realized I’m attracted to fast food when I want my life to be easy. Having someone else do the cooking (like my mother did) makes me feel cared for and loved.

The food, however, is usually a disappointment.

I felt awfully bloated afterward. During the night, I felt congested. I decided that’s it. There was a reason why I didn’t eat wheat for six months. After just a few days of splurging on a few wheat-containing items, I decided it wasn’t worth it. I went back on the veggies. Today’s grocery bag included a bag of salad, a bag of organic broccoli and cauliflower florets, and 2 bottles of spring water.

Lunch was two organic eggs fried (at a low heat) in organic extra virgin olive oil (cold-pressed).

I’m starting to get back on track.

Today’s Grocery Bag

Today, I spent a couple of hours sitting on rocks at the beach pondering my life and my feelings. I wrote in my journal. Quite profound stuff, really.

Okanagan Lake, Kelowna | Photo credit: Annie Zalezsak

I felt doubt about choices; uncertainty about the right path to take. I wanted life (and food) to be easy. Having missed lunch and it being nearly 4 p.m., I went shopping. This is what I got:

I admit today’s grocery bag was still off kilter. What’s so bad about these items? Well, it’s the Doritos, mainly. Chocolate, I allow, although it’s usually organic milk or dark.

My ordinary diet would include occasional tuna. I’d have salad, but buy organic greens, and certainly not one packaged with dressing and croutons. I avoid tins unless they have BPA-free lining (and even then, must have organic contents, no MSG and very limited beans and legumes). Nuts, including peanuts, are okay every now and again. Sea salt is okay. It’s that these are roasted with highly processed canola and soybean oil.

Of these, tonight’s dinner was the caesar salad with a side of Zesty Cheese Doritos.

I only ate a couple of those croutons. I realized as I began to eat, that I actually did not need or want those. The Doritos were a bit difficult to stop once I started. I still had chocolate left from the other day, but by the end of the evening, I dipped into one of the new bars, too.

*sigh!*

Here’s hoping for a better day tomorrow.

© July 13, 2013 | Annie Zalezsak

I Fell Off the Wagon with Calzone

DunnEnzie's calzone and caesar salad. Photo by: Annie Zalezsak

In January 2013, I stopped eating wheat. Having experienced health issues, I gradually improved my diet to the point where I was eating all organic meat, almost all organic produce, green drinks and supplements. I felt better and better. I consulted with a nutritionist and everything was going really well.

My last blood test results hadn’t been so good. Instead of further improving my habits, I fell off the wagon. After a week of eating badly, I saw my nutritionist. She pointed out this often happens after an unexpected test result. I cried. I had come so far, I had done so well, felt much better and now I had gone and spoiled it all.

Plus, I still wanted to go get a calzone right after my appointment.

“Then have it,” she said.

What? Can I really?

Her main concern had always been how strictly I was sticking with my diet. I wasn’t allowing myself to veer off (except for chocolate). I could not imagine myself eating any other way ever again.

But current life stress was freaking me out and it was showing up in my food choices.

For the next 7 days she told me to eat whatever I want. Yes. Whatever. Only catch is, I have to ask myself ‘why’ I want it, and what does it make me ‘feel’.

Why did I want the calzone? I felt anger, anger, anger.

“Why anger?” she asked.

“I should have the right to eat what I want.” I said.

“What does eating the calzone make you feel?” she asked.

“Freedom. Normalcy. Like I’m normal again. [No health issues.]” I replied.

Ah.

Getting in touch with the feelings, she said, will help me find a balanced way of eating again. If I wasn’t so strict and self-denying and I permit myself to ‘choose’ certain things despite their effects, it’s no longer a fight against temptation. It’s a negotiation.

“By the way, I’m surprised you lasted as long as you did, being so strict.” Really? “…and that you came to me so soon after falling off. Most people wait about 6 months.”

That made me feel better. I didn’t want the calzone any more. I was hungry (it was past lunch time), but I really wanted to get in touch with what I was feeling. I went for a walk and sat by the lake for almost an hour, pondering all of this.

Okanagan Lake, Kelowna | Photo credit: Annie Zalezsak

I began feeling more like having a big salad with chicken strips at Boston Pizza instead. After dwelling on food, feelings and reasons, I stuck with the calzone. I also got caesar salad. With croutons.

The other part of the nutritionist’s deal was to eat mindfully: to bring my attention fully to the food, no distractions. My mind wandered constantly. When I could remember to bring it back to the food, I did so with the Ho’oponopono words, “I love you. Thank you.”

I ate every last morsel.

About an hour later, I had some chocolate, too.

Photo credit: Annie Zalezsak

Today, it was a falafel pita, full of veggies. Not quite as bad.
Plus chocolate, of course.

I wonder what food and feelings will come up for me tomorrow.

© July 12, 2013 | Annie Zalezsak